After several weeks of low COVID-19 case numbers, the National Capital Region has seen its first spike. On Saturday, Ottawa Public Health reported 19 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa. This is the largest one-day increase in more than eight weeks.

On Saturday, July 19, Ottawa Public Health confirmed 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the region, the biggest one-day spike since May 21.

While these numbers remain relatively low, more than half of the new cases are people in their 20s, according to Ottawa’s top doctor.

Speaking to CTV News on Saturday, medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches confirmed that indoor parties are a major reason for the latest increase in cases.

“The cases we're seeing today are because of activities that people engaged in in Stage 2," Dr. Etches explained. 

Of the 19 new cases reported on Saturday, nine are directly related to parties. 11 of the 19 cases are young people in their 20s.

"What's striking about these 19 cases is that they're related to activities we know are higher risk," the doctor said.

She continued, "They're related to parties indoors, people not physically distancing and people gathering in greater numbers outside of their household or their social circle.”

Acknowledging young people have “really worked hard” recently to practice physical distancing, Dr. Etches went on to reiterate the importance of not letting our guard down.

"I want to encourage people that we have to keep that up a bit longer,” she said. “We have to visit with distance. We have to keep our social circles smaller. We need, collectively, all of us, to keep doing these things."

While house parties were a contributing factor in Ottawa's case spike, they weren't the only cause of the increase.

Another factor is people going to work while sick, confirmed Dr. Etches.

Discussing the new cases, she said, "They're related to people who have symptoms of illness and are still going to work or still hosting a party."

"These are the behaviours we need to stop and make sure we have the good practices that are hard to maintain but are essential to stop transmission of the infection in Stage 3," she added.

Despite the minor spike on Saturday, no new COVID-19 deaths have been reported for 22 consecutive days in Ottawa.

On Friday, the City entered stage three of Ontario's reopening plan, which included the reintroduction of movie theatres, indoor dining, bars and more. 

Ontario’s COVID-19 cases also saw an increase this weekend, but the total remained under 200.

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